Karajan conducts Madama Butterfly – with Freni and Domingo
"A weaver of magic, a curator of the sublime, a master choreographer" – that was the Wall Street Journal's appraisal of Jean-Pierre Ponnelle (1932–1988) the innovative French director who brought opera, alive and kicking, into the televisual age. His 1974 TV production of Puccini's great Japanese tragedy boasts a superb cast, with Mirella Freni (Cio-Cio San) and Placido Domingo (Pinkerton) each at the top of their vocal and dramatic game, plus Herbert von Karajan conducting the Vienna Philharmonic with notable delicacy and warmth. But Ponnelle's cinematic, semi-naturalistic staging is compelling in its own right – using freeze-frames, special effects and flashbacks to give Butterfly's story an unforgettable immediacy and emotional power.
- Plácido Domingo (Tenor), Mirella Freni (Soprano), Siegfried Rudolf Frese (Baritone), Martha Heigl (Soprano), Hans Helm (Baritone), Evamaria Hurdes (Contralto), Robert Kerns (Baritone), Christa Ludwig (Mezzo-Soprano), Erna Maria Mühlberger (Soprano), Marius Rintzler (Bass), Elke Schary (Soprano), Wolfgang Schneider (Baritone), Michel Sénéchal (Tenor), Giorgio Stendoro (Baritone)
- Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor, Wiener Philharmoniker
- Herbert von Karajan